Developing future Pacific arts managers and leaders
In light of COVID-19 and the uncertain times we find ourselves within, Tautai’s beloved Oceania Internship Programme will be postponed for a future date.
When it is safe to do so, we will reignite this initiative with an ever greater sense of purpose. Fa’afetai tele lava to all of the host organisations and potential candidates who applied to take part. We will reach out to to the sector again when the country is in good health.
Internships are available annually to Pasifika arts practitioners across all disciplines that are keen to build their experience in arts administration.
The Internships are full-time and paid and run for 20 weeks with a national reach.
Applicants must have a tertiary qualification and/or a minimum of three years continuous experience working within the arts.
Six interns were placed throughout arts organisations in Aotearoa in 2019. Presently, all six are still working and creating within the arts in Aotearoa.
Sitting down with artists Courtney Sina Meredith and Janet Lilo in their Avondale home and listening to their story is compelling and uplifting. It’s a story filled with mana; tales about love, family, community and giving back.
It would be easy to just label them a “power” art couple; Courtney is an award-winning poet and the director of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust; Janet is an influential visual artist with permanent works in Te Papa and the Auckland Art Gallery.
Yet it’s soon evident that family and community are their most important works to date; each of them excelling in their respective roles as mothers, lovers, civic leaders and artistic pioneers.
Lately, Courtney’s focus has been on Tautai. Previously inhabited by Artspace (which has moved downstairs), the gallery is expanding to take over the whole of the first floor to include a new space, which is a first in Tautai’s 34-year history.
The new gallery, when it opens, will be a platform for artists making room for more exciting Pasifika-curated exhibitions. “Artspace has been an emblem for contemporary New Zealand art. So now to occupy that space and make it all about contemporary Pacific art, well there’s something really beautiful in that and something really now,” says Courtney.
“When we talk about the rise of Pacific art,” she continues, “I genuinely believe there’s a new consciousness, or an awareness, that [Pasifika artists] have always been here. That these aren’t new voices, it’s an awareness of those voices, and an infrastructure for those voices, and I’ll say it — new funding for the amplification of those voices — where we’re seeing change. More and more we’re having people in leadership positions who are saying ‘This is important to us; these are our key values’; it’s not just dressing.”
She and Janet have known each other for years, since they were both high school students at Western Springs College, but fell in love and moved in together just a year ago. They share their home with Janet’s boys — Harry 12, Milo, 9, and Manaia, 3 — and Courtney’s “baby” Sadie Rose, a dachshund/shih tzu puppy.
Courtney has lived in the home for nearly two years; it’s been in a family trust for some time and several years ago she helped her father renovate it. With vast open views to the Waitakere ranges, the house has an enormous, slightly sloping backyard that the boys turn into a giant waterslide in summer.
Their love affair represents the merger of two incredibly talented Pacific artists. In addition to her role at Tautai, Courtney is an award-winning poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician.
She’s earned critical acclaim for her published works, including Tail of The Taniwha, a book of short stories, and The Adventures of Tupaia, the story of a Tahitian priest navigator who sailed on board the Endeavour with Captain Cook on his first voyage to Aotearoa.
Janet, an artist, lecturer and social commentator, uses digital photography, video, and multimedia installations to explore issues of popular culture, and is prestigiously represented in permanent collections at the Auckland Art Gallery and Wellington’s Te Papa.
“I went to all of her shows, I fan-girled her!” says Courtney, who is four years younger than Janet. After high school their paths would criss-cross over the years.
When Courtney was 24, and working at Auckland Council, she curated an art project and recruited Janet to be involved. Subsequently through their mutual involvement with Tautai — Janet was previously on the board — a seed of friendship was born that later blossomed into love.
“Part of why we fell in love and why I’m so in love with Janet and so obsessed with her — I’m infatuated, I really am,” says Courtney, “[is that] there’s a natural ease in our relationship.
Their mutual love is palpable. Displayed on a living room sideboard table are a collection of works by Courtney, including the Poetry New Zealand 2020 Yearbook which features a love poem written from Courtney to Janet.
Will they plan on having children of their own? “It’s a work in progress,” says Janet, adding with a laugh. “We already have a fourth child, Sadie.”
Although Janet only recently moved in with Courtney, she is no stranger to Avondale, having grown up in the suburb with most of her family close by.
She’s also no stranger to giving back to her community; as a trustee of Whau the People Charitable Trust, an Avondale-based arts collective, she co-runs the All Goods Gallery, a non-profit space for arts, established a year ago.
Her next big project is organising The Whau Arts Festival, set to be this June. “I have always worked with community in the context of arts. There’s a balance: to do the little things, you do the big things,” she explains.
After the Christchurch attacks a little over a year ago, Janet decided to show her solidarity with the Avondale Islamic Centre by anonymously leaving an artwork on the fence inscribed ‘ISLOVE’, along with the hundreds of other tributes from other strangers.
Twelve months on her sign is the only message the centre has not taken down. “The community is our home,” says Janet. “It’s probably my most favourite work of 2019 in terms of what it means to me.”
Their house is a “work in progress” from a decorative point of view, mainly due to the fact they’ve only recently moved in together. “We haven’t been together for so long to ‘grow up’ a house. These things take time,” says Janet, showing me one of her favourite pieces — a milk bottle punctured by thousands of tiny holes, which she explains is the result of the dog’s teething period. “That’s quintessentially New Zealand.”
The walls are filled with pieces of deep sentimental value. Courtney’s pieces include a photograph taken by Ralph Brown of Coven, a collective of queer artists activating an arts space. Below that is a painting by Courtney’s step-grandmother Patricia Melhuish, of a beach scene in Napier.
Janet’s recurring use of bananas as iconography — think of her 6m-high light poles on the Karangahape Rd overbridge in 2017 — began with her original work, Banana (2012), which now sits on the living room wall behind the sofa.
She explains her use of bananas was originally inspired by her late Samoan grandmother, who used to hand out bananas to her and her cousins when they were children.
For the Viva shoot to accompany this story Janet has set up a temporary installation of corflute laptops — emblazoned with MAKE WRONG RIGHT NOW — in the backyard. It’s an edit from her work Man in the Mirror that was part of the 2019 Honolulu Biennial, where she represented New Zealand. “I quite like using things that have a local or global context,” she says.
Above the mantle in the living room is a painting by Courtney’s cousin Danielle Meredith — appropriated from an early childhood photo, which her grandfather still carries in his wallet — that holds a special place in Courtney’s heart.
As a child growing up in Glen Innes, Courtney Sina Meredith developed a deep love for her grandmother who she fondly remembers as an incredibly kind and empathetic soul; she remembers her working tirelessly in a denim factory for much of her life, having immigrated from Samoa at the age of 17.
Despite her grandmother’s death just a couple of years after the photo was taken, the legacy of her hard work and passion is what inspires Courtney every day. “She encouraged me from a young age to speak my mind and have a voice,” she says.
“From her challenges and her journey, to having a grandchild who’s now opening this beautiful big space [Tautai]; the journey for me to be able to do these things began a couple of generations back.”
Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust was set to reopen on March 26, with Moana Legacy, an exhibition curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe. It has now been postponed due to Covid-19. Check Tautai.org for updates.
Now we are open again we will be adhering to government guidelines around Covid-19.
The safety of the community and our staff is our top priority, therefore we will be taking the following precautions:
Please ring our office landline +64 9 3761665 or email us to schedule a visit/ meeting/ appointment with a staff member
On arrival you must sign into GuestHQ by scanning the QR code with your mobile phone and completing your details
A maximum of 10 people are allowed in the office at all times
If you are unwell, stay at home
Exercise social distancing at all times
Please wash your hands, we will provide hand sanitizer for our visitors
Cough and sneeze into your elbow
Be respectful and patient, we are doing our best to adjust to this new way of life.
Once we are back in the office we will
get the ball rolling on opening our gallery.
Stay up to date on our announcements regarding the Moana Legacy exhibition opening by following our social media accounts and joining our mailing list. We can’t wait to share our new space with you all! Thank you for your ongoing support during this tough time.
We have been working hard to stay connected, head over to our website tautai.org to see what we have been doing to share alofa and creativity over the past eight weeks.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown announced today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was scheduled to launch Pacific Arts organisation Tautai’s new space in Auckland on Thursday 26 March.
That won’t happen, but the space is nevertheless a major step forward for the Pasifika arts community according to its director, Courtney Sina Meredith.
‘The establishment of a gallery specifically for contemporary Pacific artists was a dream of founding patron Fatu Feu’u and his peers when Tautai initially formed [in the 1980s]. He’s been in to see the space recently and the smile on his face said it all,’ she said.
‘This is a historic moment that marks the beginning of a new chapter for our artists and our community, but it’s also about coming full circle and honouring our founders,’ Meredith said.
She said the new Tautai would be primarily a place to share ideas and practices, but wouldn’t preclude Pasifika artists selling their work.
‘All events and activities will be free, and any purchases of work will take place directly between artists and interested buyers — Tautai will not take a commission,’ she said.
The name Tautai draws on the Samoan word for navigator, and the organisation has successfully found a way to secure six years of funding from government arts agency Creative New Zealand for their 500 square metre space on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. The building features a sculpture reminiscent of a spiky conch shell by Kiwi artist Guy Ngan, who identified as Pacific Chinese.
Curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe, the space’s inaugural exhibition is entitled Moana Legacy and features works by Ahsin Ahsin, Gina Ropiha, Israel Randell, Mereani Qalovakawasa, Naawie Tutugoro, Rangituhia Hollis, Talia Smith, and a piece made collaboratively by Wickliffe and Kelly Lafaiki.
The exhibition continues until 5 June, though it is unlikely to receive many visitors in its first month. New Zealanders have been asked to stay at home for the next four weeks. – OCULA 23.03.2020
Tautai Information Your first port of call, if you’re not sure what you need, email Tautai Info and Zoe will send you in the right direction. Zoe Lewis, Tautai Assistant – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 21 065 1656
Tautai Gallery Curious about an artist or wanting information on upcoming Tautai exhibitions and activities? Email Tautai Gallery and you’ll soon hear from our gallery expert Gloriana. Gloriana Meyers, Gallery Assistant – ddi +64 376 1665 | +64 27 688 8518
Tautai Administration Wanting to find someone specific or book in a meeting or anything logistical? Email Tautai Admin and Danielle will help you out – she runs everything. Danielle Meredith, Operations Manager – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 22 561 4098
Tautai Director Interested in finding out about the future of Pacific creativity in Aotearoa? Needing an expert opinion on Oceanic expression? Email any of the above contacts first, or reach out to the Tautai Director and Courtney Sina Meredith will reply in due course. Courtney Sina Meredith, Director – ddi +64 9 376 1665 | +64 22 532 0806
Over the past 30 years we have grown to become Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus.
Office Hours: Mon–Fri, 10am – 5:30pm
Welcome to Tautai, Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation.
Located in Tamaki Makaurau, Aotearoa New Zealand – Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is a charitable trust dedicated to championing Pacific arts and artists. Tautai was formed in the 1980s when leading Samoan artist Fatu Feu’u and his peers came together with a shared aspiration to support and promote Pacific visual artists.
In the years since, we has grown to become Aotearoa’s premiere Pacific arts organisation with a multidisciplinary focus. We bring artists and the wider Tautai aiga together through a range of events and activities locally and globally.
Proudly supported by Creative New Zealand, Foundation North and Fetu Ta‘i Patrons, Tautai is able to provide unique opportunities for the Oceanic arts community. Situated in the heart of Auckland’s CBD on Karangahape Road, Tautai’s newly expanded premises now includes a gallery space dedicated to showcasing the works of contemporary Pacific creatives all year round. In addition, Tautai’s full programme of activities and events include live-streamed artist talks and performances, a brand-new international strategy, workshops, internships and partnership initiatives that encourage growth in the sector.
Tautai draws on the Samoan word for navigator and illustrates the organisation’s commitment to guiding moana arts in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Tautai’s Board of Trustees is chaired by leading Pacific artist Lonnie Hutchinson (Ngāi Tahu, Sāmoa), she is supported in her role by fellow Trustees: Brenda Railey (Secretary), John Gandy and Stephen Tamatoa Cairns.
“Tautai is a place, a people and a purpose.” – Director, Courtney Sina Meredith
We look forward to seeing her talents flourish across the ocean!
In partnership with QAGOMA and Creative New Zealand, Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust is pleased to announce that Natasha Matila-Smith has been selected as the inaugural curator for the Creative New Zealand Pacific Curator Residency in Australia.
Natasha will work with QAGOMA’s Asian and Pacific Art team towards ‘The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT10), developing an artistic project of Pacific Art in Aotearoa New Zealand that will be presented as part of APT10.
Over the past five years Matila-Smith has worked consistently across curatorial projects, writing and her creative practice to expand understandings of the complexity of contemporary Pacific life in Aotearoa. She has developed a reputation as one of Aoeteroa New Zealand’s most unique critical voices. Throughout her practice she has challenged stereotypes and confronted expectations, presenting exhibitions that acknowledge the broader contexts for Pacific artists and art.
Tautai’s Director, Courtney Sina Meredith said: ‘This is a ground-breaking moment for arts in Moana Oceania, we’re thrilled to be appointing Natasha Matila-Smith as the first Pacific curator to take up this opportunity. She has an important voice within our community and is someone who has worked with Tautai through the years, contributing to the shape of contemporary Pacific arts in Aotearoa and our global positioning. We look forward to working alongside our partners QAGOMA and Creative New Zealand towards APT10.’
QAGOMA Director, Chris Saines CMZ agreed, saying,: ‘This exciting new residency opportunity enhances the Gallery’s ongoing commitment to providing platforms for New Zealand based Pacific artists, writers and curators through the APT exhibition series.
Natasha’s contributions to conversations about what constitutes contemporary Pacific culture could not be more relevant to the APT. She will have much to contribute as we celebrate the series 10th iteration and enter the exhibitions third decade.’
With major funding secured from Creative New Zealand, the new Tautai headquarters places them alongside other key organisations such as Te Papa and Auckland Art Gallery as a platform for amplifying Pacific creativity.
When Tautai HQ reopens, it will be to a beautiful expanded space of over 500 square metres with a myriad of new initiatives planned for the coming year. Tautai’s Director Courtney Sina Meredith says the extra space, which includes a dedicated gallery, will enable Tautai to expand on its current programmes and activities from a central location.
The key contributing factors that make up Tautai is the work we do within education and institutional facilities, with artists, industry and our fundraising abilities. With this new expansion comes greater opportunity in all these areas.
Artist support If you are an artist interested in becoming part of Tautai’s creative community please follow our facebook page, which is regularly updated with new opportunities.
Tautai Oceania Internship Programme Tautai’s treasured internship programme, now in its seventh year, is currently paused due to COVID-19. If you are interested in becoming part of our internship programme in future either as a host organisation or an intern, please contact us via email. Check out our coverage on our 2019 internship programmes.
Fundraising Tautai is a Toi Tōtara Haemata investment client, our main source of funding comes from Creative New Zealand. We also receive generous support from Foundation North and our Fetu Ta’i patrons. Tautai work with additional networks to further strengthen the creative Pacific community. In 2020 we plan to expand even further, connecting in with aligned Oceanic arts organisations and Pacific media to profile and uplift our arts aiga.
Tautai Gallery Open Mon–Fri 10–4pm | Gallery Opening Friday 3rd July, 4:30pm Level 1, 300 Karangahape Road, Newton, Auckland. PO Box 68 339, Wellesley Street West.